Olivier Giroud is the next subject of our player season review series as we take a closer look at the numbers and moments behind the Frenchman’s 2020/21 at Stamford Bridge…
It should not be forgotten how crucial Giroud was during the post-lockdown restart last year as his goals helped seal a top-four finish for Frank Lampard’s side, without which our 2021 Champions League triumph would not even have been possible.
The striker started the new campaign having to work his way up the pecking order again but his contribution, particularly throughout a difficult winter and on the big stage in Europe, proved decisive once more. He finished the season as our third-top scorer and with that elusive European winners’ medal to add to an impressive collection.
With Tammy Abraham and new arrival Timo Werner also in contention for places in attack, Giroud had to make the best of his opportunities in the early part of the campaign.
He did just that in September’s Carabao Cup thumping of Barnsley, netting 10 minutes after coming off the bench during his first run-out of the season with a trademark stooping header, earning a start against Tottenham in the next round.
However, the 34-year-old’s autumn action was restricted to cameos as a substitute and by mid-November he had played almost four times as many minutes for France, remaining an integral part of the world champions’ strikeforce.
Reigning in Spain
Giroud’s involvement on the international stage and his desire to feature at the upcoming Euro 2020 finals helped keep his mind focused. A run of eight goals in as many games began in his homeland with a terrific leap and header to seal all three Champions League points away at Rennes with a last-minute winner.
A week later, he started his first Chelsea game of the season in Spain and scored all four goals in our 4-0 win against Sevilla, becoming the oldest player to net a Champions League hat-trick for 56 years.
It was a reminder of the striker’s enduring class and reinforced an uncanny ability to get on the scoresheet after being named as a starter on the teamsheet, a run he extended three days later with the equaliser against Leeds United.
After making his 100th Chelsea appearance at home to Krasnodar, our no.18 started both subsequent league outings at Everton and Wolves, scoring against the latter, but was unable to prevent the Blues falling to back-to-back defeats before Christmas.
Brilliance in Bucharest
Following Thomas Tuchel’s appointment in late January, the German opted for experience and began with Giroud in his first game against Wolves, the first of his six starts under the new boss.
A few weeks later, back in Europe for a last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid, the striker produced his most important goal of the season, and possibly the most spectacular of his Chelsea career. With the ball hanging in the air, he twisted his body to fire a brilliant bicycle kick past Jan Oblak and seal a crucial first-leg advantage for the travelling Blues.
It was later voted by Chelsea supporters as our Goal of the Season and, when the story of our 2021 Champions League triumph is retold in years to come, that acrobatic effort will surely be one of the first memories that comes to mind.
Olivier Giroud 2020/21 Chelsea stats
Appearances: 31Starts: 12Substituted: 11Unused sub: 25Minutes played: 1,300Goals: 11
Olivier Giroud Premier League appearances 2020/21
Olivier Giroud made 17 appearances in the Premier League this season, eight of them as starts.
Olivier Giroud Champions League appearances 2020/21
Olivier Giroud played eight times in the Champions League this season, six of which were as a substitute.
Olivier Giroud FA Cup appearances 2020/21
Olivier Giroud made four appearances in the FA Cup this season, three of which were as a substitute.
Olivier Giroud Carabao Cup appearances 2020/21
Olivier Giroud played twice in the Carabao Cup this season.
Olivier Giroud goals 2020/21
Olivier Giroud scored 11 goals this season, one of which was a penalty.